What The X Factor can teach us about Job hunting
The X Factor: it’s an unavoidable and powerful force that sees the public tuning in week after week into watch the fate of 16 acts in search of a recording contract.
A closer look at it shows it’s a cleverly-played, amplified recruitment drive with the prize being someone’s dream job. As such, there are many things job hunters can learn from the show, especially the interview stage.
And just like Simon Cowell & Co’s search for that one person with star quality, hiring managers up and down the country are too searching for the right person to recruit.
Broadly speaking, I see some similarities between both casts:
Constestant = candidate
Judges = employer
The public = stakeholders (anyone who can influence the process: managers, existing employees)
Once we get to the live shows, you’ll see the categories of contestants reflect the varied skill sets of candidates.
Here’s the breakdown:
– The ‘experienced’ candidate – those already doing the job
– ‘Transferrable skills’ – those with a group of skill sets ready to change industries
– The ‘potentials’ – recent graduates/school-leavers without commercial experience
– ‘Industry types’ – the right commercial background, but not necessarily every skill on the ad
Just like contestants, when applying for a job you will be up against some very stiff competition; so the key to standing out is identifying your differentiating qualities and really playing on it.
Employers (and Judges!) are very picky, but then there’s no such thing as the perfect candidate. Finding ways to use your skill set to match what the employer is searching for will put you in good stead.
Auditions to live shows
Depending on the nature of the job you apply for, you may be asked to take part in a number of interview stages.
In a job hunting context, making the first move by sending your CV in is similar to the initial ‘auditions’. Think of it as the first stage where you up against hundreds of other competitors.
Over the hiring process you may be asked to take psychometric tests, attend group interviews or jump straight in with the final interview. Your aim is to stand out and give the employer something to get the interest flowing – something that will help you to clinch the interview.
It’s crucial to refine your performance every time you make contact with the company. Whether that’s re-familiarising yourself with industry speak or brushing up on your Excel skills, don’t leave any gap for weakness.
Elimination and feedback
Throughout the build up to the grand final, every week a contestant will be eliminated from the competition. Whilst many of them disappear from the public radar, others will use the experience to their advantage.
Whilst candidates aren’t subjected to the public humiliation, it can still be a devastating experience nonetheless. What you do next, however, can put you back on the right course.
If you miss out on the job, but are still keen to work in the industry, why not approach competitors of the hiring company to see if they are recruiting?
If the hiring manager took a shine to you, ask them to keep your CV on file for consideration for upcoming vacancies in the pipeline.
Perhaps, after seeing the reality of the job, you decide it wasn’t for you after all. Don’t view the process as a waste, reflect on what you have learned to work out what it is you really want from a job.
What you do with feedback will ultimately help you to land your next employment opportunity.
The winner’s song
Sometimes the person who has landed the job will go onto to achieve great things for the company (think Leona Lewis), other times they’ll find it’s not for them (Steve Brookstein).
Either way, they can’t rest on their laurels – they need to prove why they landed the job in the first place. If you translate this to the work place, those new recruits that excel are the ones that don’t stop refining their skill set.
Once you land a job, take time to really learn the ropes. Make the most of your induction period – the tools your mentors give you, and how you use them, will determine your success.